As we approach the impending Superbowl featuring the Pacific Northwest’s very own Seattle Seahawks, I felt it appropriate to explain why I am not at all excited about anything other than the commercials. You see, if you grew up in the Pacific Northwest and you are a sports fan of any kind, then you are familiar with a pattern of sports teams that excel in the regular season only to fall apart when it matters. I’m sure that somehow this has seeped into my psyche in ways that I don’t recognize. Lest you think I exaggerate, I leave the following for your consideration:
- 1986 – Portland Trailblazers use #2 draft pick to select Sam Bowie, passing over a rookie Michael Jordan
- 1989 – Gary Payton and OSU appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated as the #1 team in the country. They stay in the top 10 all year, but fall to Ball State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. (BALL STATE! I don’t even know where Ball State is!!!)
- 1990 – Portland Trailblazers lose to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA championship.
- 1992 – Portland Trailblazers lose to the Chicago Bulls in the championship despite being up by 15 in the fourth quarter with Michael Jordan on the bench. (See here)
- 1994- Seattle Supersonics hold league best regular seaon record with 63-19, but lose in the first round to the Denver Nuggets
- 1996 – Seattle Supersonics set franchise record with 64 wins and advance to the NBA championship series, only to lose to the Chicago Bulls in six games.
- 2000 – Portland Trailblazers are up by 15 in the fourth quarter in game 7 of the Western Conference finals but fail to score and give the Los Angeles Lakers the series. The Lakers go on to win the championship in 5 games. (See here)
- 2001 – Seattle Mariners set single season win record with 116 wins, yet fall to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship, 4 games to 1.
- 2002-2006 – University of Oregon makes five straight bowl games and loses all of them.
- 2003 – University of Oregon men’s basketball team wins the Pac-10 championship and enter the NCAA tournament with a #8 seed, only to lose in the first round to Utah.
- 2005 – Seattle Seahawks go 13-3 in the regular season, and appear in Super Bowl XL as heavy favorites. They go on to lose 21-10 to the #6 seed, wildcard Pittsburgh Steelers.
- 2007 – University of Oregon football team is ranked #2 in the nation, but quarterback Dennis Dixon tears his ACL with only 3 games to go ending hopes of a national championship.
- 2007 – Amazingly, the Portland Trailblazers repeat their gaffe from 1986 and draft Greg Oden instead of Kevin Durant. Oden misses entire first season due to injuries and is eventually waived.
Also for your consideration…
The 10 best athletes to never win a championship in the Pacific Northwest:
- Clyde Drexler (After a hall of fame career in Portland, won a championship only after being traded to the Houston Rockets)
- Steve Largent (Played 13 seasons for Seahawks, held almost every record a receiver could hold)
- Randy Johnson – (Never won with the Mariners in 10 seasons, but won with the Arizona Diamondbacks after being traded.)
- Rasheed Wallace (Won championship in Detroit the year after being traded from Portland)
- Gary Payton (12 seasons with the Supersonics, won championship after being traded to the Miami Heat)
- Scottie Pippin (Won six championships in Chicago, none in Portland despite making the NBA finals in 2000)
- Ray Allen (Five seasons with the Sonics. Won championship with Boston Celtics the following year after being traded.)
- Ken Griffey Jr. (13 time all star, #6 all time home runs leader, no championships)
- Alex Rodriguez (6 years with the Mariners, #5 all time home runs leader, 14 time all star)
- Walter Jones (9 time pro-bowl, NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, considered one of the best lineman of all time)
Honorable Mention: Cortez Kennedy(Seahawks), Shawn Kemp(Sonics), Shaun Alexander(Seahawks), Ichiro Suzuki(Mariners)
So there you have it. The Pacific Northwest has the capacity to produce fantastic sports teams and franchises, but they leave a 30 year legacy of ultimate disappointment. Am I proud of the Trailblazers and the Seahawks and the Mariners? Sure. They’re my teams. But you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t hold my breath on this whole Superbowl excitement.